Bobby Bradford / Hafez Modirzadeh Quartet: Live At The Blue Whale

John Sharpe By

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This is the third album from the fertile pairing of cornetist Bobby Bradford and reedman Hafez Modirzadeh. Each time they have been joined by a different rhythm section: Ken Filiano and Royal Hartigan on Live At The Magic Triangle (NoBusiness, 2017), and Mark Dresser and Alex Cline on Live At The Open Gate (NoBusiness, 2016). This time out the team stoking the engine room comprises bassist Roberto Miranda and drummer Vijay Anderson. In keeping with past sessions, everyone brings charts to the date.

The interplay between the hornmen remains one of the outfit's strongest characteristics. But it takes a variety of forms. In Miranda's "Raphael," it appears as extemporized dialogue after the bassist's richly lyric bowed-intro. The kicker here is that Modirzadeh switches between three instruments: the karna, a hybrid wood brass horn, on which he blows an atmospheric Middle Eastern sound evocative of a muezzin call to prayer; his soprano saxophone, where he leans into conversational exchange with Bradford's Texas blues-inflected cornet; and the khaen, a sort of Asian mouth organ, which he uses for color.

Although less exotically inclined, the horns also feature heavily in Modirzadeh's "One Bar Lowe." Between theme statements, soprano and cornet entwine in a capella interludes, either joshing the sunny melody, or cavorting in playful chase. That gambit of unaccompanied cornet and soprano gets the flip side underway too, introducing Anderson's at first dirge-like, but then swinging "Almost Not Crazy," a piece which also provides the only turn in the spotlight for the authors propulsive drums. Other cuts such as Modirzadeh's "Free The Idea (Variations on an Ornette Coleman Theme)" and Bradford's closing "Crooked Blues"—mean that this is one of the most melodic and time-orientated of their discs. It might make a good place for the uninitiated to start.

Track Listing: Raphael; Free the Idea; One Bar Lowe; Almost Not Crazy; Crooked Blues.

Personnel: Bobby Bradford: cornet; Hafez Modirzadeh: soprano saxophone, karna (1) and khaen (1); Roberto Miguel Miranda: bass; Vijay Anderson: drums.

Title: Live At The Blue Whale | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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